Ricotta Cheesecake

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3 lbs.fresh Miceli’s Ricotta
1 tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup grated zwieback or biscotti
1 tsp. plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup Miceli’s Mascarpone
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place the ricotta in a sieve over a bowl and let drain for 1 hour. Butter the bottom, sides and rim of a 3”x10” leak-proof spring form or plain round cake pan. Mix the grated zwieback crumbs with 1 teaspoon sugar and coat the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ricotta in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at low speed until smooth.  Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar. Continue to beat until mixture is very smooth. Beat in the optional cream or mascarpone and vanilla.  Pour into the pan and smooth the top.

Place the pan inside a roasting pan whose sides are not higher than the cake pan and add warm water to the larger pan to within 1 inch of the top of the smaller pan. Place pan in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours, covering the top loosely with foil after 30 minutes. 

Remove and let cool to room temperature in the water bath. Lift pan out, dry it and remove the foil.

Refrigerate overnight, and it will firm up. To un-mold, slide a thin knife around the cake edges.  Release the sides of the spring form pan. If using a plain cake pan, invert onto a large plate covered with plastic wrap, tap the bottom and the cake should slide out. (If it does not slide out, soak a towel in hot water, wring it out and place it over the bottom and sides of the pan for 10 seconds.) Invert cake onto a platter.

Refrigerate until serving.